Trends in Retirement Security by Race/Ethnicity

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The brief’s key findings are:

  • The earnings and wealth gaps between whites and minorities are enormous. The question is how these disparities translate to retirement preparedness.
  • In 2016, the share of whites at risk in retirement was 48 percent vs. 54 percent for blacks and 61 percent for Hispanics, smaller than the earnings/wealth disparities.
  • The retirement gap is smaller simply because minorities have a lower pre-retirement standard of living to maintain.
  • From 2007-2016, retirement risk for all three groups increased, but the gap between whites and blacks narrowed while Hispanics fell further behind because:
    • a sharp decline in earnings among low-income blacks was buffered by Social Security; and
    • Hispanics were hit much harder than either whites or blacks by the bursting of the housing bubble.